What If…

I have a character who intrigues me.  Have you ever wondered what you’d do if you could start your life over– completely?  Ella gets that chance unexpectedly and the results are interesting.  To her, she is who she is now– she always has been.  It is as if her real self has come forward and now has a chance to shine. The problem is, the others in her life do not know that person.  Daily she says or does something that confuses them, frustrates them, or causes some sort of contention with them.

I’ve “reinvented” my life a million times, but not certainly not to the degree that Ella did.  I remember the day I woke up and realized I was going to learn to hate sewing if I didn’t change the number of hours I spent at it per day.  That doesn’t sound like reinventing a life, but when the bulk of your days was spent sewing, cutting, planning, or processing orders, you have to admit that it is.

Some things are non-negotiables.  I am a Christian.  No changes in how I live my life can conflict with that.  My choices, decisions, and priorities must align with God’s Word.  I WANT my life to reflect that the Lord of it is Jesus.  It’s not easy, but it’s simple.  If I’m going to make changes in my life, the first ones should narrow my focus from myself and to my Lord.

I am a wife.  I am my husband’s “helper” according to scripture.  For the first 23 years of our marriage, I have been blessed to have a husband who spent much of his free time doing my job for me– helping me.  Well, I think the time has come for change.  It’s time for me to pick up some of the slack that I’ve left over the years.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do a lot around here– much more than even I think of at times.  I am just talking about embracing that “helper” role instead of “getting ‘er done.”  This non-negotiable cannot be crowded out by the rest of life anymore.

I have nine children.  Nine.  Yes, one is married with two of her own children and another one slated to appear in April/May.  One is off at the University of Irvine–three hours away.  I have two more adults at home and five minors.  Just because some of my children are grown doesn’t mean my job is done with them.  They aren’t dolls.  You don’t sew and stuff and paint them until they’re finished and then put them on shelf to admire.  If anything, sometimes I think your older children need you more than ever.  I’m a mom.  It’s part of who I am but I think I need to be MORE of a mom– somehow.  That’s a non-negotiable.  I can’t set that aside and I wouldn’t want to.

I’ve really wrestled with this but home education is definitely a non-negotiable for me.  Would I like to feel free to “outsource” our children’s education?  Absolutely.  There are days it is my daydream– long mornings and afternoons with no one around but myself.  No planning, correcting, or working with a student that just doesn’t get something.  The problem is, I can’t do it.  I just can’t.  It’s not negotiable.

If what I decide what I want to do and be conflicts with who I am as a Christian, a wife, a mom, or a home educator, it can’t happen.  It just can’t.

The real question then begs, what I can I decide?  What– blended in with the four things I cannot and will not supersede–will I do?  Who will I grow into in these next years?

I’m eager to see.  Ella had the advantage of an author who could mold the story to fit the will of her character.  I have the superior advantage to have an Author who is able to mold me to His will.  I’m fascinated by the concept.

As You Walk By the Way…

As if the banner verse for homeschoolers the world over, Deuteronomy 6:9 is often in the forefront of my mind.

6“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.

7“You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

8“You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.

9“You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Now, of course, this is talking about the Word of God– His commands for His people.  However, I’ve found that this works for most subjects in our educational process.  Something happened recently that made me think of this.  Andra has a unique way of telling a story.  It’s nearly all dialogue.  She’ll start telling me about a conversation with a friend and it’ll sound something like this:

“We were talking and I said ‘Where’d you get that?”

“Oh, my mom bought it for me at a garage sale.”

“Oh, really, that’s really neat.  I wonder if I can find one in the store.”

“Probably not.  Mom said they’ve been out of stores for years.”

“Oh, drat.  I’d like to find one.  If she sees one at a garage sale, would you ask her to get one for me?”

“Sure!  I know she’d love to.”

And that’s it.  There’s the story.  Exactly as told.  By the third sentence, it’s hard to tell who is and isn’t speaking anymore.  If she were writing a book, the reader would go INSANE.  I’m not sure when this started, but I noticed it a few months ago and kept my mouth shut.  Then, after a few long, frustrating months, I decided to show her how she should tell a story so that others don’t get frustrated and confused.  I confess, at first it was about my sanity.  It drove me crazy to hear her tell any story that had any dialogue in it at all.

She’s a smart little thing.  In just a week or two, and after only a few reminders, she’s pretty much cured of the habit, and her storytelling ability seems to naturally have improved.  If she can write as she speaks now, she’d have a great writing ability.  Even if she can’t, she’s been taught not to drone on and on without giving the reader a hint of who is speaking.  The only thing worse than that would be every line having the person’s name tacked on after, “Said.”  UGH.

I was thinking about this later and realized, she got quite a lesson in just a few lines of instruction on how to tell a story.  I bet it took me less than three minutes to show her the difference, but she learned it well, painlessly, and if we can translate it into writing, it’ll be a huge lesson that she learned while I browned the ground beef.  Not too shabby.

“As you walk by the way, as you lie down, as you rise up, as you brown the ground beef…”

School Days… School Days… Dear Old…

 School days, school days
Dear old golden rule days
Readin’ and ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic
Taught to the tune of the hickory stick
You were my queen in calico
I was your bashful barefoot beau
And you wrote on my slate
“I love you, so”
Will D. Cobb, 1907

 

Two years ago, those words pierced my heart.  I have very fond memories of school, learning, and the various schools I attended.  Would my children have the same fond memories?  Was I building great memories of learning or was school going to be just another part of life that they didn’t necessarily dislike but just wasn’t all that memorable. 

 

I decided to make it memorable.  I instituted me reading aloud their history and science.  This is huge.  HUGE.  I do not like to read aloud and I do think that reading it yourself is extra beneficial.  There is something about your eyes seeing those letters that seems to burn the information into your brain just a little clearer.

 

Oh, I know, that means I’m a “visual learner.”  Actually, I’m not.  I’m an auditory learner if anything. 

 

In addition to that, I do not like to read aloud.  I’m actually a very good reader when I put my mind to it but it it torture for my brain to keep my eyes on the sentence that I’m reading when it is dying to skip along much faster than my tongue or my  children’s ears can follow.

 

It was a success.  My children loved it.  Shame on me.  There is no reason I shoudln’t have done it years earlier.  Now they’re clamoring for History, Science, Geography, and projects, assignment sheets, and more accountability than ever. 

This year, I’m adding them all.  In addition, I’m adding quite a few new things to the mixture.  It’ll mean new responsibilities for me and a change in schedules around here but it’ll work I think and work well.

 

What are you doing to make school run smoother and more interesting for everyone involved?